Edge computing and 5G are often considered as different technologies. But when it comes to applying them, you cannot separate them.
Only by combining them can enterprises get the low latency they need for the next generation of real-time applications, said Ken Wee, senior vice president of alliance, partnership, and innovation at the Bridge Alliance. He was speaking at a panel discussion on “Monetising the 5G Edge” at Asia Tech x Singapore in July.
Wee’s view was that 5G should be seen as part of an ecosystem to bring industry partners together. This ecosystem requires the “convergence of IT infrastructure, connectivity, and devices to unlock opportunities for the enterprise.”
We Need To Shift 5G Investments
Fellow panelist Aps Chikhalikar, head of TMT for Asia Pacific Japan at cloud provider ServiceNow, noted that most current investments in 5G were on the consumer side. But he believed that in B2B use cases, the technology would deliver most of its value as part of a broader technology stack.
“If you look at the immediate opportunity which lies ahead, it's more with some of the industrywide enterprise solutions which our clients can take to market,” said Chikhalikar. “Where that is in hospital patient monitoring, the remote monitoring of assets in oil and gas, or autonomous vehicles.”
“I think there needs to be a big pivot where the capital is allocated to some of these enterprise solutions and use cases,” he added.
Chikhalikar said when configuring these technologies, “it is not just about the sensors you put on the edge. It is about how much of your computing resources you need to put at the edge as opposed to centrally managing them.”
He offered the example of a customer, a large mining company in Australia. It used large autonomous vehicles fitted with sensors and was operating in the Western Australia outback, while the base station was in Perth. The company also relied on the ServiceNow platform for assurance.
“They can actually proactively assure the smaller resets they need to do with the provision of more edge computing power,” said Chikhalikar.
5G-Edge combination needs hyperscalers
Wee talked of how telcos providing 5G connectivity and infrastructure could work with cloud hyperscalers in collaborative partnerships to enhance the ecosystem's capability for end clients.
“Telcos are very good with networking, while hyperscalers are good in the cloud. And they can manage quality connectivity for end-to-end solutions,” he said.
The “massive scalable processing capability” that the hyperscalers traditionally kept in the cloud could be distributed to the edge through 5G partnering with telcos.
Many companies were starting in the cloud but finding they also needed capabilities at the edge. The network becomes essential, potentially as part of a “network as a service” model.
If there was “synergistic collaboration” between network and cloud, this was the way forward and optimally as part of a broader transformation.
Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].
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